Cebu Junior College, UP (Circa 1938)

By: Madrileña de la Cerna April 14,2018 - 10:01 PM

DELA CERNA

During the Diamond Jubilee celebration of UP Cebu in 1993, the UP Alumni Association, Cebu Chapter held an Annual Alumni-Faculty Reunion at the UP Cebu Campus. In that gathering, past President of the UPAA Cebu Chapter, Atty. Prospero V. Manuel humorously shared his Reminiscences of the pre-war years circa 1938. Professors as usual were the first to be recalled like “ the “terror” English mentor, or tormentor who enjoyed terrorizing the freshmen, figuratively pounding the rules of grammar into our thick skulls,”

There was the professor in German who taught them that the clock is female, while the table is male. He said that till the present he could not cease to marvel at the fantastic imagination of the Germans because the clock with its round face and hands of unequal length is anything but sexy; and examining the legs of the table closely, he could not see anything suggestive of the male sex.

There was their professor in Spanish whose English was as bad as the students’ Spanish, so that they never understood each other until the end of the semester. To improve his English the Professor would go to the movies, very frequently cowboy movies at the Ideal or Oriente Theatre of the Avilas, which cowboy language he then passed on to the students to translate into Spanish the next day.

There was also Prof. Soriano, father of past UP President Emmanuel Soriano who was mistaken oftentimes by the students as the school janitor because he would come to school in his greasy working clothes, since he was also working as engineer of the Lu Do oil mills. They were only six students in Calculus at 5:30 in the afternoon after their ROTC drill. When the professor would be late, they would start walking jauntily down Gorordo Avenue, he met them along the way in his car, a run-about model with a rumble seat, so he loaded all six of them back to school.

They can never forget their versatile P.E. teacher who taught them the sports of swimming, football and basketball and the manly arts of tumbling, wrestling and boxing and the finer arts of the “rigodon”, “Bailes de ayer”, and the native dances. He also required them to learn to sing “U.P. Beloved” even if they were off-key.

In connection with their lesson in Zoology, they tried to classify their professors as: Phylum – Filipino; Class – Bisayano; Order – Cebuano; Example – Nemenzo (father of past U.P. President Dodong Nemenzo). Atty. Pros described him as “ “Characterized by a cold exoskeleton but with a warm-blooded tender-loving heart; endowed with superior intelligence, the animal has the curiosity of the cat, the patience of the spider, and the memory of the elephant. Unfortunately, the animal is not prolific, since it sires only 2 or 3 young. But fortunately, however, the young truly take after the parents.”

But the professor he can never forget because he owed her so much was Madame Rafols, Professor of Social Science, Adviser of the Women’s Club, a confirmed old maid, and guardian of morality on campus. She had the eye of an eagle, always alert for lapses in decorum and decency. During socials on campus, she would arrive with a ruler in hand, to measure the distances between partners. “Dancers would then dance away to some remote corner and hold each other tightly with a vengeance.”

How did they go to school? They took the 5-centavo ride on Ciano’s Bisaya transit passing through Jones Avenue and Mango Avenue; or Antoy’s Autobus transit passing through Sikatuna and Echavez every hour on the hour. If one missed one hourly schedule, he had to wait for the next hour’s trip. Oftentimes, they would just hike downtown, which was too near if there were coeds in the group, directly to Posang’s La Suerte at Colon for 20- centavo “Pospas,” “minantikaang saging,” or “leche con hielo,” and eventually wound up beside the Ideal Theatre for a 20- centavo first-run, air-conditioned movie. With only two pesos, one could enjoy a date.

Noontime, they took lunch at the college canteen for 20 centavos, complete with fruit or ice-cream dessert. A mobile hamburger van used to stand by every afternoon, and some of them would spend their last centavo on snacks if assured of a free ride downtown on the van.

By way of infrastructure, they had a gym, with an indoor basketball court, complete with showers of both ends, to separate the sexes. They gym was multi-purpose as a volleyball or badminton court, an armory, or a dance hall. The annual military ball was always looked forward to with anticipation by the Cebu social community who came in formal attire – the men in white duck tuxedo or chiquitilla; the women in long gown or mestiza dress.

Many of them recalled the traditional Filipino Night in December with the band of Maning Villareal or Frankie Postrero playing the music of Glenn Miller or Tommy Dorsey.

After graduation from the Cebu Junior College with the title of Associate in Arts or A.A. which they interpreted as “Ang-ang” because they were still half-baked, they continued their studies in U.P. Manila. Several members of 1938 became prominent doctors, chemists, educators and business managers. After graduation in Manila, some of them came back to the college to work as laboratory assistants, teachers, or librarians.

When World War II broke out in 1941, classes were immediately suspended. The ROTC cadets were all drafted into the military service and stayed in campus. Atty. Pros recalled a machine gun emplacement on the roof top of the main building. Early one morning a plane flew very low as it was about to land at the Lahug Airport when it was fired upon by the cadets impatient for action. A few minutes later the cadets were reprimanded because it was a friendly allied (Dutch) place which they had damaged with several bullets holes.

During the war, the gym and the row of faculty houses on campus were completely destroyed, while the main building was damaged.. But even before it was repaired, classes were reopened to eager students in December 1945.

Atty. Pros looks forward to the post-war generation of students as usual who will create its own memories to reminisce over in later years, to complete the cycle. He concluded that “If I sound nostalgic for the good old times, it is because nostalgia is like grammar: one finds the past perfect and the present tense.

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TAGS: Cebu‬, college, Junior, UP (Circa 1938)

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